Tracking the QR Opportunity

Introduction

Digital menus, product packaging, tickets, and identification – QR Codes seem everywhere now. Once an overlooked, clunky technology, QR Codes have had a recent resurgence. Thanks to COVID-19 and advancements in our mobile devices, QR adoption has gone mainstream in only a few short years. And even though global QR Code scans increased by 443% in 2022, we are still only scratching the surface of harnessing the true power and business augmentation that they provide.

If we think back to the inception of QR Codes, invented by Denso Wave in 1994, the original problem that led to this invention was that the Toyota subsidiary needed a more accurate way to track vehicles and parts during the manufacturing process. QR codes solved that problem. But they were still a little ahead of their time. The internet, mobile devices, and apps were just distant dreams. Only with these technological advances will the full potential of QR Codes be realized. Today, the combination of this new technology with QR codes provides limitless potential for frictionless asset management solutions. While many applications have emerged to tackle a wide variety of QR Code-powered use cases, when used correctly, QR Codes provide a superior asset management experience around initiating, tracking, managing and enabling enterprise supply chains in diverse industries.

Controlling QR “State”

One of the features that QR Codes offer is immense versatility. With this inherent level of flexibility comes more possible applications and use cases. It’s important to see through the “QR Noise” and identify areas where QR Codes truly add value and are not a marketing gimmick. Enabling supply chains is just that — an area where QR Code technology provides a well-positioned foundation to build robust solutions, enabling key stakeholders to have timely information as assets flow through their supply chain. When it comes to an asset moving through a supply chain, whether that’s an automobile part, router, soil sample, or medical instruments tray, there are common themes. First, security and authentication – who will be able to access the information stored on that QR code? How will the security be enforced? Will there be different roles or access delegation? Does the asset’s status, quantity, location, condition, and value change over its life? These are all relevant questions that Openscreen can help solve and manage when using our platform to automate and enable your supply chain. While we are all familiar with the QR code that scans to a website, in many cases a QR code may be needed but the data, workflow, or destination may not be known. Openscreen’s platform can create “inactive” QRs, which can be appended to any asset. Once the data or workflows are defined, the QR code is simply scanned to initiate it and registered as active. All subsequent scans would follow the programmed workflows. Openscreen’s ability to change the status and workflow of a QR code as it moves through your supply chain facilitates the creation of powerful tracking enablement solutions. And our flexibility makes it easy to rapidly integrate this functionality into your mission-critical supply chain processes.

Controlling QR “View”

One of the biggest challenges with robust tracking applications is mobility and internet connectivity. Without an internet connection, many platforms fail. Openscreen Track is a solution that allows you to capture data without a live internet connection and then post that data when a connection is available. Openscreen Track can also create access restrictions that control who can access which data points. A manufacturer, vendor, or customer scanning the same QR code would have different permissions, workflows, and ultimately end views. To illustrate this point further, take an automobile part as an example. As it passes through its lifecycle from manufacturing to a final consumer, the company’s authenticated users will want to see and access different pieces of information than what will be relevant to consumers and the public. Openscreen Track makes this level of dual visibility possible and easy.

Blue background image with car part scanned to phone to register

 

It’s Not ALL About the QR

As our CTO reminds our team and our clients, “The QR Code is just the front door in.” What does he mean exactly by this? Well, QR Codes are a great entry point for causing a specific intent to occur, i.e., bringing a user to a specific URL or website, but that’s just the beginning; it’s the logic, foundation, and set of valuable micro-services built behind the QR that really allow the magic to happen. The Openscreen platform has been built as a developer-first platform and has been architected with 5 core objects (Scans, Assets, QR Codes, Messages, & Contacts).  These building blocks can be rapidly stitched together to enable powerful tracking solutions for enterprises. Nuvolinq, an IoT service provider, uses Openscreen’s QR platform to track, manage, and submit service calls for their routers. The QR code used by support staff to register a router is the same QR code used by customers to submit a trouble ticket. The workflows change, but the QR code remains constant. From sending a message to specific contacts upon a QR scan to triggering a status change from “inactive” to “active”, sending and receiving goods, transferring ownership, and changing data points, Openscreen’s Track solution can help businesses enable their supply chains quickly while reducing costs, automating mission-critical processes, and putting valuable business insights at management’s fingertips. Try it today for free at www.openscreen.com or reach out to us at sales@openscreen.com to learn more!

Smarter Product Sampling with QR Codes

The team at Openscreen recently had the opportunity to help power a business that’s nothing short of a revolution in product sampling and customer engagement.  Imagine a frictionless, contactless, retail experience where brands can provide a low-cost product trial experience, while gleaning invaluable first-party data from prospective customers.

Enter Dori, a Toronto-based company that is reinventing the contactless customer experience with Openscreen’s QR Code based product sampling solution.

More than Just a Vending Machine

We’ve all seen the traditional vending machine.  Rows upon rows of consumer products, from cans of coca-cola to high priced electronics.  Pick your product, enter your credit card, and carry on.   The Dori sampling experience is entirely different.  Although they do offer vending options, their sampling offering is unique and timely in today’s data-driven economy, which is placing more emphasis on contactless user experiences.

Simple Workflow, Powerful Results

At its core, the Dori experience is brilliantly simple. First, brands like Goodfood provide samples of their products in high traffic kiosk locations like this one in Toronto’s famous Distillery District.

Next, people who are interested in a free product sample simply scan a QR Code that is displayed on the outside of the physical kiosk to jumpstart their contactless experience.  And then, magic happens.

The customer is provided with a simple form, through which they provide some demographic information, and perhaps answer a question or two that would be helpful to the sampling brand.

Within seconds, the customer receives a secure, one-time QR Code voucher by SMS, which they can redeem for a sample of their choice from the machine. Using this modernized sampling approach, Goodfood gathered over 4,400 consenting contacts within 1 month at the Eaton Centre and Distillery District.

Dori = Data

Gone are the days where paid employees set up camp in a store or park and start tossing out samples to an anonymous hoard of people.  Return on investment in these campaigns is an impossible metric to measure, and often it’s difficult to control the disbursement of samples in these free-for-all environments.

With Dori’s QR Code based product sampling, there is a one-to-one ratio of sample to customer and both brand and consumer leave happy.  Customers get to sample a free product, and brands get invaluable first-party, consented data that can be used to better understand their market opportunities.

Openscreen and Dynamic Voucher QR Codes

Openscreen’s flexible API enables e-Commerce platforms like Dori to generate secure, dynamic QR Code vouchers directly from 3rd party sources.  In addition, Openscreen provides scan-to-form solutions that acquire and store first party contact data on behalf of the companies that use the company’s solutions. Given its extensive API and SDK library and ecosystem, Openscreen is uniquely positioned to enable your business to use QR Codes in a variety of frictionless e-Commerce use cases.  Talk to one of our experts today to learn how we can augment your business processes and platforms.

In Venue Audience Capture

Sports franchises have many opportunities to gather first party data about the fans who are interested in their teams.  Point of sale terminals capture concession sales, ticketing platforms manage customer information, and newsletters gather e-mail addresses of die-hard devotees.  But what about getting real time customer data when fans are most engaged with their teams? Wouldn’t the ultimate method of fan insight and engagement occur if teams could gather data from their fans while they’re sitting in their seats, cheering on every play?

Openscreen Engage

Openscreen Engage is an audience engagement solution that uses scan-to-form dynamic QR Codes, customer and consent management, and real time SMS communications solution.  When used in sporting venues, we’ve been able to give teams unparalleled first party data about their fans and the games they attend with unprecedented rates of engagement.

Case Study: The Gatineau Olympiques

This past Spring, the Gatineau Olympiques of the Canadian Hockey League leveraged the Openscreen Engage solution.  Twice a game, they flashed a scan to win trackable QR Code on their jumbotron.

One lucky winner would get a signed jersey in return for providing some consented customer and contact information through a frictionless and nearly instant auto-fill form.  Fans filling out the form received a confirmation text message indicating they had entered the contest.  Openscreen Engage managed all consent and text communications, creating real time engagement with fans.  Moreover the Olympiques could use the received mobile number to notify winners, and ensure duplicate entries were adequately prevented.

Tracking Engagement Like Never Before

The beauty of Openscreen Engage’s trackable QR promotions is the opportunity to directly measure engagement with certainty.  Brands know immediately whether their promotions are working, and with an additional element of customer opt-in, they’ll also able to get the “who” in every campaign.

30% Engagement. Really.

You might be surprised to know that the Olympiques achieved a 30% scan and completion rate with their Openscreen Engage campaign.  Starting from zero, they were able to gather almost 5,000 customer contacts over just 3 games, with detailed knowledge of who was attending their games.

Importantly, they were also able to create a list of their most loyal fans who had scanned and attended all of their playoff games.

Openscreen Engage and First Party Data Acquisition

Openscreen Engage is an end-to-end customer engagement and insights solution that allows brands to acquire first party data to drive client loyalty and insights. Openscreen Engage combines dynamic QR Codes, digital content management and real-time SMS & e-mail communication to create compelling, modernized campaigns. Talk to one of our experts today to learn how Openscreen Engage can transform your customer experience.

Why QR Codes Underachieve

A few weeks ago, Tobi Lutke, the founder and CEO of Shopify, tweeted a short but accurate assessment of the state of QR Codes today. It went like this:

“The west is still using QRCodes totally wrong. A QRCode on a restaurant table that opens the menu is not really what we want. A QRCode can be unique to the table and allow food ordering directly to it. Should carry state and context.”.

He hit the nail on the head. But like so many tweets, the brevity of the message left the universe begging for a further explanation of what he meant. As you might have guessed, I’m going to give it a try:

West versus East

The tweet starts out by calling out “the west” for misusing QR Codes. That’s a reference to how “the east” has been using QR Codes more broadly and purposefully for years. In Asia – most notably China – QR Codes have been used across many diverse applications. They’re placed on products to authenticate provenance and brand, they’re used for payment for goods and services, they are in advertising, job recruitment and are also used for identity and wellness verification.

Employing QR

Codes for applications like these require them to be ‘smarter’ than the QR Codes we see on things like restaurant menus and store signs today. They need to be secure, and often need to capture data about the scanner (who, what, where, when, etc…). They also need to be produced at scale. Think about producing a QR Code that dynamically represented an individual and their vaccine status. This QR would need to be integrated to a medical record system, its response would change dynamically according to someone’s changing vaccination status.

State

Implementing a QR Code where results can change dynamically start to hint at Tobi’s recommendation that QR Codes carry state. For example, if a QR Code carries a state of “unvaccinated”, then scanning an individual’s QR Code might direct a browser to a warning. Changing that state to “first dose” received might render an altogether different response if that same QR Code was scanned again.  You get the idea.

Codes like these are often called Dynamic QR Codes, which simply means that the result of scanning them can dynamically change based on an underlying attribute of what that code represents. Dynamic QR Codes are also trackable and can be edited whereas Static QR Codes – like the restaurant menu example – cannot be tracked and the destination/landing page cannot be changed.

Context

Lutke also paired Context with State in his wish for better codes.   Where State might represent something about the underlying thing a QR Code represents (e.g.: a bottle of rare whiskey), Context could represent something about the scan action itself.   Context could be something like:

  • The date and time the scan took place

  • The number of times the code has been scanned

  • The location and device from which the scan was made

Context can deliver valuable information to the maker of the QR Code and other stakeholders. In essence, Context adds another layer of value to Dynamic and Static QR Codes.

Openscreen and the Explosion of the Dynamic QR

We’re believers that QR Codes can be put to broader and better use in the “west”, so to speak. Across Health Care, Marketing, Authentication, Supply Chain and many other applications, Dynamic QR Codes can deliver secure, robust, and powerful digitization of the physical world. With our platform and developer tools, we are helping companies integrate this type of functionality into their mission-critical applications.

As for your tweet Toby, we wholeheartedly agree. Thanks for putting out the call to action and we hope you keep an eye on us as we set out to change the way QR Codes are used in everyday life.

Securing QR Codes with Multi-Factor Authentication

Multifactor Authentication (MFA) has become a common shield against hacking and password theft. Nowadays, if you are using a digital service that needs to be secure (banking, e-commerce, health care, etc.), MFA has almost become standard.  After you submit a username and password, you receive a text message with a 6-digit code that’s used to prove that it’s really you who’s trying to access the service.   

Why Multifactor Works

Multifactor authentication is based on the principle of proving someone’s identity by getting two things they have from them: “something they know” and “something they have.”  Bank debit cards are a perfect example of MFA. To draw money from a machine, you need to know the PIN number and you need to have the card. That same principle applies when you get a 6-digit SMS code after you try and log in to a website.  The site is expecting you to know your username and password, and that you have your phone with you. It would be very unlikely that someone other than you could get access to both. 

Why QRs Can Benefit from MFA.

QR Codes are going to become more and more common as their penetration into the mainstream, everyday use continues.  Today, we can use QR Codes to see restaurant menus, book appointments at the bank, and get product information on things we buy. Tomorrow, we’ll likely use QR Codes to access medical records, prove product authenticity, and pay bills. In these sensitive applications, having QR Codes trigger SMS notifications to stakeholder parties for approval will be of great benefit. 

Openscreen and two-factor Authentication

The Openscreen platform includes an easy to invoke scan-to-SMS function that’s exposed via our API and Node SDK. We leverage functionality from Twilio, the leading cloud communications platform, ensuring the highest level in reliability when sending messages. To ensure that contactless technologies like QR Codes can continue to drive value for enterprises globally, every aspect must be considered, and security should always be at the top of the list. 

Market Scans - Industry Insights by Openscreen

Latest and Greatest

Blog Posts